Physical Books or E-Reader?

Do you prefer to read your Japanese books physically or digitally, and why?

  • Physical books
  • E-reader
  • Both

0 voters

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A lot of Natively users live all around the world and access to physical books might be more difficult. But I also wonder if the act of using a physical book or digital e-reader might impact how one reads novels?

Like, I read the physical copies of Japanese books because I have easy access to them. But because of this, looking up words in the dictionary takes up time, which means I’m more likely to force myself to remember readings and meanings. I wonder if I tried an e-reader, would it change how I engage with the books?

This question probably depends how good your e-reader is hahah. I currently read on a kindle paper white which can be really annoying at times in terms of selecting the right text when trying to do lookups. It adds just enough friction that I will try my best to remember readings etc before resorting to it.

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I love physical media, I even still buy games physically whenever I can. Building a collection I can show off is super fun, and I do love the feeling of holding a real book, or bringing it to a coffee shop to sit down and read.

The major downsides are of course cost and convenience, but I feel like this also makes me a bit more intentional about reading. I have to make a point of getting the book and setting aside time for it, and I can choose to leave my phone somewhere else if I want no distractions or want to force myself to read without a dictionary.

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I prefer the feeling of physical books, but ebooks are so convenient and they don’t take up space. So in recent years, I mostly acquire ebooks… though, when I am in Japan, I still buy physical books because the secondhand prices cannot be beaten by ebooks… ^^;

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I wasn’t sure if you just meant novels/LNs or also manga. I read my manga in a mix of physical and digital, but for novels/LNs I exclusively use my Kindle Paperwhite. I read my first several novels physically, but I got fed up with dealing with manual lookups, so I got a Paperwhite a couple years ago.

On one hand, this may be harming my learning since I can look up words so easily rather than actually memorize them. But in other ways it may be helping. For example, when I get to a word I think I know, I can easily double check using the built-in dictionary. While usually I am right (so potentially wasting time), every once in a while I did have the reading wrong. So I consider it an easy opportunity to correct mistakes. Reading on the e-reader also allows me to read books I otherwise wouldn’t touch given how many lookups are needed, which theoretically helps me in the long run.

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I prefer physical, but ease of word lookup + cheaper + don’t have to wait for shipping is really hard to beat in the digital space. :S

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I like both and I usually have both a physical book and an ebook going at once. Currently 火車 and 天使の傷跡 are paperback and 十角館の殺人 is digital.
There is something satisfying about reading a physical book, but getting a copy of a physical book, having space for it, finding a new home for it when I’m done, etc can be a pain.
Someone recently did a book giveaway on here and I’ll probably have to do that at some point as my shelf has run out of space and yet I still keep collecting books :sweat_smile:

I don’t mind looking things up with a physical book - I’ve gotten quite fast at handwriting kanji and doing radical lookups through necessity :joy: I actually prefer that to doing lookups in the Honto and ebookJapan desktop apps - you have to Google search them to define as they have no built in dictionary. I admit I put off reading books in those apps in the hopes my vocab will grow enough I don’t need to bother looking up much. It’s also just sort of unpleasant to read long form media on my laptop.
Currently any ebook I read is on an iPad, either in the Bookwalker app or on the Yomu app.

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It definitely changes the way you go with books. I do both, physical and ebook, and I own several of them in both formats.

While I prefer the physical format, I only leave it lately to the books I really enjoy, as space is limited. Reading it on an ebook, allows me to go faster as it enables as you mentioned quick look-ups of words. This has a pro and a con. The positive is that since you look it up fast, you can spend more time reading. The negative, is that if you just lookup quickly and don’t do anything else with the definition, is that is harder for you to stick, than if you were to write it down/look up in a dictionary manually.

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I prefer having a book in my hand, turning the pages, seeing how the book grows “smaller and smaller”, etc.
Mainly reading on a kindle paperwhite though. Main reasons for that are easy lookups and space. In recent years I’ve moved cities and countries quite often and will go back to japan for another year pretty soon. It always hurts to give up my collections so I figured I’ll just switch to an e-reader. - > cheaper, potentially rereadable (the books stay with me) and as I rarely read in my native language, much easier to obtain. Also don’t have to wait for the book to be delivered/go to a bookstore/library. Having all the books instantly accessible makes me read more books as I can loose interest in a book quite quickly after discovering it (and not being able to start it for several days).

The biggest + are the easy lookups tho. Makes reading much faster, more fun and definitely more immersive. I also feel like I’m learning more words more quickly that way.

@sycamore you might already know it. But for me discovering that you can actually select text by tapping, holding and dragging your finger around without having to wait for the dictonary to pop up and then moving the sliders around was a godsend. The screen can still be a little unresponsive at times, but this makes the experience much smoother. I’m using the newest edition of the paperwhite tho so your mileage may vary.

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Yeah, me even trying to move the sliders usually ends up with the kindle deciding that I’m trying to select the entire page and freaking out. I don’t have the latest kindle though so good to know that it would be better if/when I ever decide to upgrade! It works okay like 60-70% of the time I’d say on mine so it’s workable, and when it does work it’s great as I have a lot of dictionaries installed, it just puts me off doing things like double checking readings that I’m fairly confident but not 100% on in case it decides to have one of its freak outs haha.

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It happens on the model I have too, and it really is the only reason I’d upgrade to be honest.

Sometimes it decides to highlight the whole paragraph and create a highlight or a memo instead of doing a word look-up.

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Still happens on the newest model. Don’t have anything to compare it to, but hearsay. I’d say it works 90+% of the time (certainly more often than 60-70%). I believe the problem will persist until the refresh rate/screen responsiveness gets noticeably closer to a smartphones, so I definitely wouldn’t suggest to upgrade just for that.

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i’ve been doing all my reading on my kindle. it’s not that i actually “prefer” paper or electronics, but it very much comes down to convenience.

i live in a mountain village, and very rarely make it down into a city. so buying in shops is out. amazon shipments (from any amazon store) are international shipping, expensive and inconvenient (and the local online stores are expensive). digital books, i can get them at a touch, and start reading right away. they also tend to be the most affordable version available.

that adds up to make digital formats the clearly superior option for me.

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I don’t have any preferences although I know I tend to read faster with an e-reader, this isn’t exclusive to Japanese books, I could easily read two to three books in English on my e-reader in a single day while I would take a week to read a physical copy of the very same series.
The quick look-up is also a major pro for me when I’m just trying to keep my pace and not get stuck on a single word, I can also highlight the word for later research so nothing is lost in the end.
When it comes to physical copies one of the major pros for me is seeing the bookmark eating little by little the book and actually feeling like you’ve made progress and visualize how close to the end you are, I don’t know it just feels good, and I just like the feeling of touching the paper and reading on a “real” support.
I also make a distinction between Novels and Manga, for novels I’m fine with either Physical or E-reader (I think I have a Kindle paperwhite) I still have some room left to stock them so it doesn’t bother me to own a physical copy and I tend to take copies of series I really enjoy. But when it comes to manga I only buy physical copies, reading them on a kindle is a pain, you don’t have the advantages of being able to quick search words, reading on the kindle phone app makes it so small you have to zoom in but then you can’t see the drawings properly, and the kindle itself is meh.
And I’m not even talking about Kindle cloud reader, reading manga is on two pages view, no zoom available, reading books is impossible, books in Japanese simply can’t be opened on the cloud reader meaning that if I don’t have my kindle with me I can’t even read the books I own on my computer.
Also I’ve noticed reading physical made me better at recognizing Kanji since I usually keep a piece a paper to write down any words I’m unsure of to look them up at the end of each chapter, so I guess it is something good because you work on you’re writing skills too.

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I love this imagery of the bookmark eating it’s way through a book! Kind of like the very hungry caterpillar.

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For versions I have both the physical and ebook, and I read the ebook, I like to go back to the physical volume and see how much I have actually read. That’s a magic sensation they haven’t managed to put in the ebooks.

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If I can borrow the books from a library I still prefer physical. I usually only read books once so I don’t want to have lots of books taking space. That’s why I often go digital. Exception is beautiful hard covers, but I’m too much of a cheapskate to usually buy those :sweat_smile:.

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I get paper books from my public library, but I prefer e-books for easier dictionary integration.

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I don’t own an e-reader so physical books is the way to go for me.

If I come across words I don’t know, I stick a page marker and go back to it another time. If I feel like I might be seeing the same words repeatedly then I’d just do a quick dictionary search. Sometimes I just skip over unfamiliar words and haven’t found an instance where doing that takes away from the story…so my laziness kicks in a lot.

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